From the archives


Beautiful adaptation of Virginia Woolf's gender-bending, time-traveling love letter to Vita Sackville-West.

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Director Sally Potter
Producer Christopher Sheppard
Screenwriter Sally Potter
With Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp
UK 1992
93 mins
UK distribution Adventure Pictures

Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending love-letter to Vita Sackville-West was beautifully adapted on a shoestring and quickly became a queer favourite. It stars Tilda Swinton as the gaunt and rakish Orlando and Quentin Crisp as a memorably grotesque Queen Elizabeth I; it is in her reign that the story begins, and Orlando, a young aristocrat, starts his journey from male to female after falling into a deep sleep. Over the course of three hundred years, across epochs and beyond the rise and fall of empires, Orlando discovers what it means to be a gendered body – male or female – in a brilliantly colourful journey through history. Sally Potter’s film is a classic – visually stunning, intensely witty and a playful critique of rigid gender roles.

Jay Bernard

Flare Book Group
Join us for a discussion of the film at our very first literary salons.

Watch Orlando on BFI Player